How to Remove Rust From Lug Nuts

by Carole EllisUpdated July 13, 2023
itstillruns article image
Jupiterimages/ Images

Lug nuts are made of metal and are frequently designed and treated to prevent rust. However, over time they may develop rust as their protective coatings wear off or if they are neglected. Fortunately, since lug nuts are hardy so that they will hold the wheels of your car in place, they can also stand up to some pretty serious rust-removal efforts.

Things You'll Need:

  • Hammer
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid detergent
  • Cleaning rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Wire brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

1. Remove the lug nuts

Remove the lug nuts. If they are severely rusted, they may need to be smacked with a hammer one or two times to un-seize them. Be very careful when you do this so that the hammer does not bounce back and hit you.

2. Wash the lug nuts in warm, soapy water

Wash the lug nuts in warm, soapy water. You can scrub them with a scrub brush or wipe them down with a cleaning rag. This is to remove dirt and grime, although it may also start loosening the rust.

3. Wipe the lug nuts off with a clean rag

Wipe the lug nuts off with a clean rag. You should be able to get a better idea of how bad the rust is at this point, now that the dirt and grime are gone.

4. Sand off heavy rust

Sand off heavy rust. Rub the sandpaper over the rust to remove it. Use the sandpaper to work your way down through the rust, but when you hit metal stop sanding.

5. Scrub off the rust with the wire brush

Scrub off the rust with the wire brush. Use the soapy water you used for the initial cleaning, and scrub the entire rusted area with the wire brush. It should not damage the metal, but it will scrape the rest of the rust off.

6. Tackle any stubborn rust stains with baking soda and vinegar

Tackle any stubborn rust stains with baking soda and vinegar. Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar by combining 3 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Cover any remaining rust spots with the paste, and leave it on the lug nuts for 20 minutes before scrubbing it off with the wire brush and warm water.

7. Dry the lug nuts

Dry the lug nuts. Use a clean, dry cleaning rag to remove as much moisture as possible and prevent flash rust.


Soaking lug nuts in vinegar is another good way to loosen stubborn rust buildup. Mineral oil can discourage the formation of rust.

Video: How to Restore Rusty Lug Nuts

Comments on this video:

  • Hi guys. Great video. Completely helpless since most people don’t have an 8” bench grinder at home, but I digress - please don’t ever wear gloves while using rotating equipment: lathes, mills, grinders, drills, etc. Use your bare hands for safety
  • i am digging this little project you're doing. A whole bunch of information that everyone needs to know.

More Articles

article divider